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Saturday September 28, 2013 MYT 9:50:00 PM
Saturday September 28, 2013 MYT 9:52:00 PM
by aftar singh
Malaysia's Muhd Azuan Hassan Meor (left) trying to get the ball away from India's Sukhmanjit Singh during their match at the Sultan of Johor Cup in Johor Baru on Sept 28, 2013. The match ended 3-3.
JOHOR BARU: Malaysia staged a magnificent late fight to come back from two goals down to hold favourites India to a 3-3 daw in the Sultan of Johor Cup match at the Taman Daya Stadium on Saturday.
Malaysia and India completed the round robin fixtures with 13 points each after five matches. India, however, top the standings with a better goal difference.
Both the teams will meet again in Sunday’s final.
The final round robin match on Saturday saw the fans turning up in droves and the two teams – Malaysia and India – did not disappoint them.
Satbir Singh gave India the lead in the 10th minute before Ramandeep Singh made it 2-0 in the 33rd minute.
With eight minutes left on the clock, India took their feet off the pedal and Malaysia came alive.
Mohd Shahril Saabah narrowed the deficit with a penalty corner goal in the 62nd minute before Mohd Rashid Baharom made it 2-2 from close range two minutes later.
When Shahril scored with his second penalty corner to give Malaysia a well-deserved 3-2 lead in the 68th minute, the fans could have been forgiven for thinking victory was inevitable.
But Yousuf Affan had other ideas, equalising from top of the D with just a minute to go.
National team coach K. Dharmaraj said that “it’s not easy playing back-to-back matches against top teams like India”.
“They were solid in every department but I must praise my boys for not giving up. India started to take it easy towards the end of the game and we capitalised on it to take a 3-2 lead,” said Dharmaraj.
“We were just unlucky that they equalised. However, we expect them to have another go at us in the final tomorrow.
“They conserved energy by fielding their reserves ... they also have the strength on the bench. My boys have been performing consistently and the pressure will be on us to win against India in the final.”
India coach Gregg Clark said that Malaysia had shown tremendous improvement in the tournament and “are very good with their counter attacks”.
“They are speedy and absolutely well-organised ... they are capable of beating any of the top teams,” he said.
“If they play like this in the Junior World Cup in December, I’m sure they can finish in the top eight ... they have quality players.
“We are expecting a good final tomorrow and I hope my boys can rise to the occasion.”
Tags / Keywords:
hockey, Sultan of Johor Cup, Malaysia, India, K. Dharmaraj, Mohd Shahril Saabah, Gregg Clark
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